"Faith" continues directly on from the events of "The Road Less Travelled", and for those concerned about the "lack" of "progress" in this season, it is time to sit up an take notice. Throughout the first 5 episodes, the foundations for this final season were carefully laid out in terms of a study of what makes the individual. Through most of them, we see this in uniquely human terms as each episode focuses largely on the Colonials. We she how one's growth, one's hopes, fears, loves, losses and choices come together to create the being we each identify ourselves to be and how we will respond to the unexpected, the frightening and the downright unpleasant. Now the final aspect of what makes us who we are comes into play: the question of faith. Be it a religious faith or zeal as evidence in equal measures by the Colonial's broad belief in their gods, or the fiath in God as a metaphysicial being as held by Leoben, Six and herit group, or a philosophical representation of our potential, as already espoused by Baltar, or just a sheer, driving gut instinct to do what is "necessary", as seen in Kara Thrace, there can be no denying that faith (and sometimes a lack of it) shapes a part of our thoughts and actions.
In a nutshell: - Thrace's faith in herself that she can find Earth is vindicated as her group find the "comet" and gas giant that sit as pointers on the road to Earth - although not quite in the manner she imagined
- Roslyn's faith in herself, already subject to a degree of doubt as her treatment for cancer progresses, undergoes a deep challenge in the gentle words of another terminal cancer patient (brilliantly portrayed by Nana Visitor of Trek fame). - Baltar's faith, which he may see as someehat philosophical, having essentially described it as the goodness they lies within during a previous sermon, continues to grow and challenge (and change) all those who hear it.
- Anders faces up to his biggest challenge as he finds himself in the midst of the surviving members of Six's breakaway movement. While his faith in his identity as a human remain pre-eminent, it is nevertheless weakening in a desire to know more about his origins.
Two stories are carefully counterpointed throughout the episode: Roslyn's and Thrace's, with the other threads (Anders, Athena, etc.), carefully wrapped around both of them. This not only provides the epsiode with its core dramatic thrust and rich introspection, it also clever mirrors the fact that while these two women have taken vastly different paths to one another over the last four seasons, nevertheless their fundamental belief systems are not that far apart, and at the end of the day, they are still seeking the same thing: the salvation of their race - and both have used religion to further their search. Faith brings together all of the threads laid down to date in season 4 and weaves them together in a breathtaking tapestry - one that not only gives a hint as to the future direction of the season, but one which also ties neatly back into the past - specifically to the words of the "first" hybrid, as spoken to Kendra Shaw in "Razor". Not only this, but in "Faith" we begin to see some of the meaning behind the oft-repeated mantra from the Cylons that, "All this has happened before" and - even more intriguingly - the strongest hint yet as to the real nature of the "Final Five" is given, a hint that not only serves to explain how Saul Tigh can be a Cylon - but also to the revelations than may await us down the road as to the nature of the 13th Tribe.
That there will be an alliance between the more "religious" or "human" Cylons and the Colonials now appears inevitable - and while it will be interesting to see how the Colonials react to having Cylons in their midst, it is also interesting to note the bridgehead between the two already exists within Baltar's growing movement. It is also interesting to note that the ideal of individuality plays itself out so perfectly in this episode through the Cylons themselves. Yes, as Cavil has stated, they are all made from machines and pre-programmed to operate along certain lines - but they are also more than this. Each of the twelve models is clearly able to learn, grow, adapt and change to the same stimuli as mentioned above and which go to make each human being a unique individual. This is most obviously expressed in Athena's situation, but it is also more subtlely shown through the blonde Six and her reaction to meeting the woman who "killed" her on New Caprica - and her own willngness (desire?) to die now. The blurring of the lines between "Human" and "Cylon" continues, and in doing so, also help prepare the way for the possible revelation that Earth is the home of a hybrid race of humans and Cylons together - or _will_ become the home to a hybrid, homogenised race formed from the two.
Other tantalising hints of future episodes are also given here that both support the above and also raise interesting possibilities for future development / revelations:
- The idea that the final five are themselves part of the "13th tribe" and will thus help take humanity on to Earth once they understand their fate
- That Kara Thrace is still the "harbringer of death" is interesting and again hints at an another twist in the path she has chosen; but is her fate so clear-cut as defined by the "first" hybrid in "Razor". Then the warning was stark: Thrace would bring about the end of the human race as the "herald of the apocalypse" and the "harbringer of death". In "Faith", the hybrid again refers to Thrace as the harbringer of death", and her comments _appear_ to be linked to her comments on the discovery of Earth, suggesting that Thrace will be responsible for the destruction of humankind - but!
- We know the words uttered by the hybrids are a form of riddle and that one comment may not directly follow-on from the last. Could it be that this hybrid's reference to Thrace's role as a harbringer of death is _not_ related to her previous comments about the human race, the final five, etc., - but are actually the start of a new message? Even with the developing alliance here, there is still a potent force of Cylons under Cavill's leadership to be dealt with...could this be an oblique reference to Thrace's role in their destruction?
- And even if the hybrid did mean Thrace would bring about the death of the human race...is this a physical death? A wiping out of humanity, or a more esoteric reference to the merging of human & Cylon lines once they have found Earth? The ending of the "pure" human bloodline...?
- Or is this a clue that, despite all assurances to the contrary, Thrace is inded the final humano-Cylon, one so totally unique, she exists as a single entity, not a mass-produced model...? Remember the "first" hybrid's words from Razor:
"....The way forward at once unthinkable, yet inevitable. And the fifth, still in shadow, will claw toward the light, hungering for redemption that will only come in the howl of terrible suffering."
Could it be that it is only through the destruction of humanity, Thrace can achieve her "redemption", her _true_ self-identity as a Cylon? If so...then this series promises to plunge some very drak depths indeed in the future. I'm very ambivalent on the above, and put it out speculatively, expecting it to be shot down; as taken in a wider context of all we have seen (and in this episode, heard), the "first" hybrid's words point the finger squarely at another individual as being Cylon No. 5....
His religious awakening is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it has given him a new purpose, a means to rectify the mistakes of his past (as he himself stated to Galen Tyrol in "The Road Less Travelled")...but also, it can only throw his role in the death of millions - possibly billions - in ever sharper relief as time goes on and he continues to preach about love, forgiveness and perfection. At the end of the day, the hardest voice to quell is the one that cries out inside our own heads, and when that voice is crying out "hypocrite!" or worse...
Could it be that in the search for redemption upon which he has already started, only be completely through yet more suffering of those around him? Again, I raise the observation that if you watch the mini series closely, Baltar is apparently just 15 seconds from the epicentre of a nuclear strike on Caprica. What is more, and in difference to some here who insist his house suffered no more than "some broken glass and flying debris", the mini-series _clearly_ shows the house being blown in by a shockwave of massive proportions....
...Yet Baltar supposedly survived with little more than scratches by kneeling behind a human-Cylon whom we know can be knocked down by bullets - objects far less devastating than the shockwave of a nuclear blast. Doesn't really seem likely, does it?
Again, I'm not myself convinced that he _is_ the final Cylon...although the overall irony is clear. I'd still like to see his survival on Caprica clearly explained (and have advanced theories elsewhere), but for now, I'm going to close these comments by re-stating my earlier words:
Season 4 has turned a corner. We're well on our way along the road less travelled, one that is both shaped by all we've seen before and which may yet lead to deeper, darker and totally unexpected places as the rest of the season unfolds. Once again BSG has surpassed all that has come before in TV sci-fi, and has proven itself to be the most unmissable, throught-provoking show on air. And we'd better strap ourselves in for the rest of the ride!